BadgeGen v3 vs v4
Why was BadgeGen version 4 created?
We love BadgeGen and what Kyle, the original author, has created. But we wanted to evolve the system, not the least because many Geocachers had reached the Diamond level with most Badges. We wanted to create more feasible goals for the more hardcore Geocachers out there.
A few years back, pinkunicorn came up with the idea to add Loops to the badges, which Kyle agreed to implement. If you had reached Diamond level, you could start working on doubling that, to get a nice number two on your badge. Many of the badges supported up to nine loops.
A few years later (2018-2019) we had more ideas and felt that we had a hard time implementing it in the original BadgeGen. One reason was that the original was GSAK-macro, and that we were supposed to be aligned with that. It was also hard to fit our new ideas into the current design, and we didn't have access to the original vector files. On top of this we also had a license to comply with. Kyle, the original author wasn't Geocaching actively anymore which also added complexity to the whole situation.
By sticking to BadgeGen we felt a bit held back. In the end we decided to try to walk our own path. The original goal was to create something very similar. The badges were supposed to look similar, have similar requirements. The idea was that it should feel like a new upgraded version, not something new. For 1-2 years we kept discussing our ideas and making notes, and looking for an artist that could create the new badges for us. Finding an artist turned out to be harder than we had expected.
During this time we also started to realize that our ideas didn't really visually fit the original design. It was likely that we needed to create new badges from scratch. In a way this is also an advantage when using a new artist.
Finally we took the decision that we needed to get this task going and we created a concept to show. At this point in time it was announced as a new Badge-system. The focus was to show the new technical parts, and the design was more of concept art than a final design. The community in general didn't really like the design, which was expected, it wasn't ready. Most icons were just placeholders, and trying out completely different styles. The upside was that clappy, another Geocacher, didn't like what he saw. Instead of just adding hate to the thread, he sent us some concept sketches of his own. That's how he came to be the designer of the new badges!
While working on the new Badge-system this time we heard from Kyle, the original author of BadgeGen. He had full understanding that it was time for BadgeGen to evolve further. After some short discussions he decided to transfer the license of BadgeGen to Magnus Månsson, the owner of Project-GC. This is when BadgeGen version 4 was born.
So what were the new ideas then?
First off we wanted to increase some of the Loops from 9 to 99. On others we wanted to remove the Loops since it mostly lead to misbehavior from Geocachers (The Author). We of course also wished to add a few new Badges to the system. A badge for Lab caches was obvious, others less obvious, but still great ideas.
Most of all we wanted to add something we by the time called Attributes, later on they got renamed to Addons. The idea was that once you had reached Diamond level, you should have some new tasks to work on, adding small mini-badges to your big badge. By time we realized that some of the Addons we implemented were easier than others and that it made more sense to enable the Addons already at Ruby level.
We released our new Badge-system the 3rd of February 2020, by then there had been previews available in our Facebook group since November the year before.
As mentioned before, the goal was that the new Badge-system should feel like a new version of BadgeGen, but in the end we didn't really get there. Most badges were still the same, and most requirements as well. So the core was very much the same. But our new art design definitely made it feel completely new. There wasn't much resemblance between the look of the old badges and the new ones.
But for those looking closer, there are plenty of similarities with BadgeGen, in fact, most of it is the same. It's just the visual part that changed a lot.
The first release was also met by quite a lot of criticism, mostly due to the new look. Most criticized was the "pale backgrounds". But the fact was, when having the old badges side-by-side to the new ones, one can see that the difference isn't that big. It's the eyes playing tricks due to the old badges having more contrast. What's important here is that the design wasn't 100% ready. Most feedback mentioned was known and will be worked on. It should be seen as the first live version, not the final version.
Later on, the Badges has evolved further, adjusting background colors, gradients, more appealing edges, more advanced badge-style for Gem-badges, added colors to icons on so forth.
- The All Around Cacher - Log Geocaches in 360 degree sectors from your home coordinates
- The Achiever - Log Challenge caches
- The Attribute Cacher - Log Geocaches with (almost) all existing attributes
- The Lab Cacher - Log Labcaches
- The Jasmer Cacher - Log Geocaches hidden on all unique year-month since Geocaching started
- The GPS Maze Cacher - Attend GPS Maze events.
- The Giga Social Cacher - Formerly included in the Mega Event-badge
- The Odd-sized Cacher - Log Geocaches of size Other or Not-chosen
- The Favorite Cacher - Log Geocaches with favorite points, and summarize them.
Other major Badge changes
- The Favorite Cacher - Renamed to The Favorited Owner
- The Travel Bug and The Coin Collector - Merged into The Trackable Lover
- The Head-In-The-Ground Award - Renamed to The Low Altitude Cacher
- The Head-In-The-Clouds Award - Renamed to The High Altitude Cacher
- The Lost & Found Cacher - Removed, will be rewarded through the Addon system instead
- The Ape Cacher - Removed, it's now represented by an Addon on The Geocacher
We have a very conservative mindset regarding the requirements. We do not believe that the requirements should be changed too often since that would degrade the stability and value of the Badges. However, it is necessary to do it from time to time, and BadgeGen has also been adjusted at times. We also have a strong believe that we rather make Badges easier than harder. This is based on the fact that we prefer to not downgrade Geocachers, making them lose a Badge level. There have however been exceptions to this as well.
We felt that it was a perfect opportunity to do it together with this big overhaul and new release. So, together with the release we had made the biggest changes that we saw needed. But it is likely that we will do some minor adjustments two months after the release as well. We are currently collecting statistics on how common different badges are, so that we can balance the whole system better.
Those Badges that already have been adjusted should be expected to get some additional minor tweaks. Also the new badges, since they are new and doesn't have a history.
The following Badges was adjusted initially. The below numbers are for Diamonds. Others might have been adjusted as well, but likely by less.
- The Cache Owner - Requirements are unchanged, but events are no longer included.
- The Multi Cacher - Decreased the requirements by 33%, from 1800 to 1200.
- The Traditional Cacher - Minor decrease, from 15000 to 14000.
- At the time, there were 1700 Traditional Diamonds earned, 7000 Mystery Diamonds, but only 300 Multi Diamonds.
- The Mega Social Cacher - Increased Diamond requirement from 8 to 10, added to that, Giga-events have been separated. Reason: Mega's are much more common now.
- The Diverse Cacher - Increased Diamond requirement from 10 to 11. Labcaches is one of the the reason, but also an increased amount of Virtuals and L&F/Celebration Caches coming back, and more and more Giga-events.
- The Regular Cacher - Decreased Diamond requirement from 2000 to 1600. The Geocaching trends has changed, bigger canisters are getting more and more rare.
- The Brainiac - Increased Diamond requirement from 60 to 100.
- The Rugged Cacher - Decreased requirement from 180 to 150.
- In our opinion, these two are similar, and should be similarly hard to get. However, there existed 16000 Rugged Diamonds, but only 6500 Brainiac Diamonds. They still aren't balanced, but at least closer to it.
- The Veteran Cacher - Decreased from 20 to 10 years. We felt that 10 years makes most a veteran and someone who knows most about Geocaching. Also, since the badge can be looped 9 times, you can actually go for 90 years of Geocaching.
- The Low Altitude Cacher - Reduced requirements on the whole spectrum to now require a flight ticket to the Dead Sea. Diamond itself was lowered from -400 to -100 meters above sea level.
- The Matrix Cacher - The requirements has been significantly increased. Geocaching has changed and most harder ratings are much more accessible today. The mid-span (Gold to Sapphire) has been most affected.
A requirement we considered hard is The Virtual Cacher. Diamond level is currently set to 180 and with Virtuals coming back more and more it's becoming easier and easier to get. However, we decided to reward those having logged the old Virtuals with a special Addon instead.